LONDON/May 9 -- British government researchers are warning parents to keep artificial colorings out of their children's diet.

The British Food Standards Agency said research has uncovered new links between the artificial colors -- commonly found in junk foods and soft drinks -- and hyperactivity in children, The (London) Telegraph reported Wednesday. The research commissioned by the government was carried out by Southampton University scientists, who tested the effects of seven synthetic colorings and preservatives on 3- and 9-year-olds.

The warning was welcomed by independent experts.

"The majority of additives are unnecessary from a nutritional point of view -- they are there to make food more colorful or change the flavor," said Ian Tokelove, a spokesman for the Food Commission, an independent watchdog.

"Studies have already shown they have an effect on children's behavior and we would all be better off without them."

Tam Fry, the chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said the group would be "happy to see all additives go."

"They are often in cheap food that is high in fat, sugar and salt," Fry said.

From the May 23, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash